The Fort Walton Beach Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints honored their early morning seminary graduates on June 10 at the Niceville Chapel.
These classes begin at 5:45 a.m. each school day, and teacher volunteers teach them about the Old Testament, then the New Testament, the Book of Mormon and finally, Church history and the Doctrine and Covenants. This year 19 students received diplomas and certificates of achievement.
Conducting was Bishop Floyd Allen, who attended every seminary class while serving as bishop of the Fort Walton Beach First Ward. He quoted several church leaders about the benefits and blessings of this very early morning class. Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of the church, emphasized the many blessings that come from attending seminary. All the graduates mentioned what a great way it is to start the day.
Taylor Pilkington gave the invocation following the hymn “As Zion's Youth in Latter Days,” followed by a talk by Audrey Lofthouse. Lofthouse came from Colorado where the seminary is held during the school day as release time, to Niceville where it takes more sacrifice. It was something of a shock to realize she would have to arise very early to make the 5:45 a.m. class time, but she managed and was very thankful for the teachers and the scriptures which blessed her life in so many ways.
From the Destin Ward, Carson Miller shared the blessings of studying the Doctrine and Covenants and church history and taking a trip to Nauvoo, Illinois, which is rich in church history. He was especially touched by his visit to the Carthage jail where Joseph Smith, the church's founder, and his brother were shot and killed by the mobs. The Old Testament stories about Daniel was another of his favorites along with the testimony building parables of the Savior in the New Testament.
Tabitha Wilson was at first overwhelmed to try to condense and share what she had learned over the four years, but then realized that she had learned so much "line by line, precept upon precept." She emphasized that through her dedicated teachers, she had developed the concept of the worth of souls as well as knowledge of the scriptures and that her life was changed. Alex Campbell was very grateful for all the object lessons that enabled her to understand some of the more complex concepts of the scriptures.
Anna Christopherson, president of the Young Single Adults, congratulated the graduates and urged them to attend Institute, the scripture study class for the young adults. She told them of the benefits of coming to the Singles Ward, which is based in the Niceville Chapel. “Attending will give you peace and comfort and help you to overcome trials and temptations and to grow in spirit," Christopherson said.
Mike Roberts, the Fort Walton Beach Stake president, concluded with a message of how Seminary can guard the students against the many perilous times of our day and attending Seminary will fill their souls with joy.
Jalayne Haverfield, who supervises these youth, announced those who attended and completed their course, and then the diplomas were awarded by Roberts. Those receiving diplomas were Wyatt Shumway, Tabitha Wilson, Emily and Erica Curdy, Christopher Jones, Taylor Pilkington, Matthew Chabot, Aiden Ferrell, Karoline Lawson, Kyle Converse, Ryan Gillespie, Leah Ives, Audrey Lofthouse, Alexandria Campbell, Natalie Forester, Carson Miller, Benjamin Roof, Briton Blood and Leah Ives.
Maya Hammond presented a flute solo, "We'll Bring the World His Truth." The benediction was given by Chris Johnson to conclude the ceremonies.